Arizona Snowbirds

Winter weather’s closing in on many North American towns. Most migrant birds have finished their move south, escaping the cold. Why not follow them? A winter trip to SE Arizona is a great cure for a bird-watcher’s winter blues.

SE Arizona can entertain both casual bird-enthusiasts and hard-core birders. Both types often start their trip in Tucson. This city is surrounded by Saguaro National Park. Year-round bird species fill this desert land, including hummingbirds, wrens, quail, verdins, phainopepla, and woodpeckers.

Try the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, in the Park’s western half. The museum’s hawk shows and aviaries (including one buzzing with hummingbirds) can provide a great introduction to Arizona’s rich birdlife. The outdoor grounds also attract wild birds.

Ready for more adventure? Head for the sky islands, isolated mountain ranges around Tucson. These ranges’ cool, forested slopes attract many birds normally found in Mexico. Drive to the summit of Mt Lemmon, 9000 feet, right by Tucson. Or hike the trails of the Huachucas, Santa Ritas, or Chiricahuas, in search of birds like the Elegant Trogon, Bridled Titmouse, and Mexican Chickadee. Many B&B’s and lodges in the area cater to birders, and have busy hummingbird feeders nearby.

Many visitors are surprised how cold it sometimes gets in these sky islands. But no need to worry that snow will ruin your trip. If you’re visiting during a cold snap, try SE Arizona’s rich lowland preserves, such as the Patagonia-Sonoita Creek preserve or the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge. There are plenty of birds here to help beat those winter birding blues!